World Series Preview
October 24, 2013
The 2013 World Series gives us two franchises who are not strangers to each other. The American League champion Boston Red Sox and the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals, a pair of 97-win combatants, are no strangers to World Series meetings. Boston swept St. Louis in 2004, though the Cardinals beat the Red Sox in seven games in both 1946 and 1967. They oppose each other for the fourth time beginning this week at Fenway Park.
What the series could come down to is St. Louis rookie pitcher, Michael Wacha, against the potent Red Sox offense. No one has pitched better than Wacha in the last month, as the 22-year-old has taken the NL by storm. A first-round pick out of Texas A&M just last year, he now gets to contend with a Boston lineup that scored nearly 60 more runs than any other offense in baseball.
Over his last four starts, Wacha has thrown 29 2/3 innings and allowed just one earned run for a classy 0.30 ERA to go along with his .093 average against. He is scheduled to start Games 2 and 6.
Koji Uehara could be the wildcard for Boston. The Red Sox closer was named the AL Divisional Championship MVP after saving three games. Uehara held opposing hitters to a .135 batting average this season. Boston’s problem could be getting to the eighth inning with a lead. The four Red Sox starters, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Jake Peavy, have completed the sixth inning in only four of the team’s 10 postseason games.
As well as the Cardinals have been playing of late, their offense should be even better as they are getting Allen Craig back. After missing the past six weeks with an injured left foot, Craig is ready to rejoin the active roster for the World Series. Craig hit a solid .315 this season and led the majors with a .454 average with runners in scoring position.
I am going to go with St. Louis in seven games. It should be an exciting series with several close games. In the end, I like the Cardinals’ starting pitchers better.
Luck Vs. Manning
The NFL Game of the Year, at least thus far, took place Sunday night in Indy. The undefeated Denver Broncos, led by former Colt great, Peyton Manning, came to Indianapolis. As expected, the Colts fans gave Peyton Manning a warm reception and a nice tribute for everything he accomplished in Indy. But it quickly became clear that they are behind their new quarterback, Andrew Luck, now. And Luck delivered as Manning and Denver fell to 6-1.
Actually, the game turned not on a play by Luck, but on one by Robert Mathis, the longtime Manning teammate who, on Sunday, was his tormentor. Midway through the second quarter, Mathis, the NFL sack leader blind sided Manning near his own goal line. The sack forced the ball out, and it bounced into the end zone, and a safety resulted.
Those were the first two of 23 straight Indianapolis points. Luck led three straight touchdown drives, and by the time Manning started a mild comeback midway through the third quarter, it was 33-14. Luck finished error-free (21 of 38, 228 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions or turnovers), and didn’t appear to be affected either before or during the game by the magnitude of it.
Colts fans should feel blessed that they enjoyed Manning for over a decade and have another likely Hall of Famer in Luck.
Jaguar Juggernaut? (Not)
It must be quite depressing these days to be a loyal Jacksonville Jaguar fan. Or even worse, a season ticket holder. Did you know that the Jaguars have played three home games this year and not scored a touchdown? The Jags have scored 2, 3 and 6 points in their three home games: a safety, a field goal and two field goals … and lost by 26, 34 and 18. I wonder how single game ticket sales are going for their next home contest, a November 17 encounter vs. Arizona.
College Gridiron Talk
I spoke last week about the dominance of SEC football and have mentioned in the past about how the conference often beats each other up when league games begin. It happened again last week as there were five underdog victors within the conference’s play on Saturday.
Auburn beat seventh-ranked Texas A&M. Missouri blew Florida out, 36-17. Vanderbilt edged out Georgia 31-27, Tennessee knocked off South Carolina 23-21 and Ole Miss surprised LSU 27-24.
Alabama survived the carnage and is looking better weekly. The first BCS standings are out and the Crimson Tide (7-0) held its familiar spot at No. 1. Bama crushed Arkansas 52-0 on Saturday and have allowed just 16 combined points in their past five games. Auburn’s victory over Johnny Football and Texas A&M was a shocker. The Tigers were 0-8 in SEC play last season en-route to a 3-0 overall record. But along came new coach Gus Malzahn and the transformation of the Auburn program is already complete.
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Missouri has a similar story going. Mizzou went 2-6 last year within the SEC. Now it is undefeated after being preseason top 10 schools in Georgia and Florida in successive weeks. The Tigers completely dominated Florida on Saturday, outgaining the Gators by an astounding 500 to 151 yards. And with a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first start of the season no less.
I have to admit that I did not see Florida State’s 51-14 destruction of previously third ranked Clemson. Watching that game, the Seminoles are loaded at nearly every position. And they now have a quarterback, a true freshman, who could be one of the top five QB’s in the nation.
Remember his name. Jameis Winston. He has a great offensive line and some fast skill players. And the Seminole defense held the powerful Clemson offense down all evening long in Death Valley. Florida State has now returned to once familiar territory in the national polls.
Just like they were between 1987 and 2000 (14 straight years), Florida State is ranked in the top four.